Snake smuggler busted and slapped with probationPosted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck
PHOENIX -- David Langella had been traveling to Arizona for three years to poach endangered wildlife, transport the animals across state lines, and sell them in Alabama.
“There’s definitely a huge back market out there for this kind of thing,” said Daniel Marchand, curator of the Phoenix Herpetological society.
Langella, 43, was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for violating Arizona and Alabama laws, as well as the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits the illegal transportation and selling of wildlife.
According to Marchand, Arizona is a tempting spot for poachers, who can make big money selling desert animals.
“People will try to come out to our desert and poach our wildlife,” said Marchand.
Langella was convicted of transporting and selling Gila Monsters, a venomous state-protected lizard.
“There’s people that want these things. People willing to pay very high dollar for these things,” said Marchand. ”You can get hundreds of dollars for these guys on the black market.”
Langella is also convicted for dealing in the federally-protected ridge-nosed rattlesnake.
“For a pair of these, you’d get about $5,000,” said Marchand.
Marchand said there are several reasons these types of animals are so popular in the illegal market.
“It’s the idea that these animals are rare, that they are protected, so I’m not supposed to have them, that sort of thinking,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn in Birmingham, Alabama sentenced Langella to three years probation for violating the Lacey Act. She also ordered Langella to spent the first four months of his probation under home confinement.